Maria Walz is CEO of VistaComm, an agribusiness marketing firm in Sioux Falls.

How’s your digital marketing working? Not very well, you say. Well, how effectively are you executing your digital marketing strategy? You don’t really have one?

Don’t feel too badly. The lack of a well-thought-out strategy is the most common reason businesses don’t achieve good, measurable results from their digital marketing.

Focus on these eight key touchpoints when creating and implementing an effective digital marketing strategy:

1. Who Do You Want to Reach?
It’s hard to target effective messaging to someone you don’t know. Impossible, actually. That leads us directly to the critical first step in the digital marketing process – creating a buyer persona.

A buyer persona is a snapshot of your ideal customer, created from market research and real data about your existing customers. Personas help you better understand your customers (and prospective customers), making it easier to tailor content, messaging, product development and services to the specific needs, behaviors and concerns of different groups.

2. Organizational Goals
What’s your organizational mission? Lay out how your digital marketing strategy to help you carry out that mission. Goals should be measurable and have a time element: “We want to increase lead generation by 60 percent in the next 12 months.” Don’t forget to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine if your content and advertising strategies are working. (i.e., cost per lead; website visits)

3. What Do You Have?
Next, take stock of your existing digital assets (website, blog posts, images, infographics). Are they working together? Do they need to be revised or refreshed?

4. What Do You Need?
Are there gaps in your marketing toolbox? Maybe more infographics would help get your point across. Identify the tools you need, prioritize them and determine when to add them.

5. Crank Up Your Content
Content differentiates a successful digital marketer from marginal performers. Effective, compelling content is essential in guiding potential customers through the three stages of the buyer’s journey:

  • Awareness – The buyer is just becoming aware of a problem or need. Your content goal should position you as an expert, establishing your knowledge of the topic.
  • Interest – The buyer is…